Thousands of foster children in South Carolina qualify for pandemic aid

Local News

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Department of Social Services recently launched a program aimed at providing pandemic relief to foster children and those who have aged out of the system.

The federal government sent nearly $4-million to South Carolina as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Now D.S.S. is working to distribute that money.

According to D.S.S., nearly 4,000 people in the state are eligible for the pandemic aid, which applies to those between the ages of 14 and 26.

Director of Communications and External Affairs for South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, Connelly-Ann Ragley said to start with step one.

“For eligible youth, that believe that they’re going to qualify for this pandemic relief is that, they need to contact the agency so that we can place their names on an agency maintained list,” Ragley said.

That way D.S.S. can verify your foster care history, your age, and make sure you meet the requirements.

“And they must have experience in foster care,” Ragley noted. “So they’ve either exited the system, whether they’ve been reunited with their family or they’ve been adopted into another home, or they have aged out of the system.”

The money can be directly reimbursed to you or paid to a provider, such as a utility company.

However, the benefits are broad.

“Funds to assist with things like food, utilities, rent, access to technology, devices and other expenses,” said Ragley.

The money can also be applied to housing assistance or transportation allowances.

“To help youth with obtaining a vehicle or maintaining a vehicle,” Ragley said. “Whether that’s car repairs or insurance.”

D.S.S. also temporarily raised its Education and Training Voucher to $12,000 per calendar year.

“So that’s a great opportunity for anyone that qualifies for this federal aid to maybe go back to school, continue their schooling,” Ragley said. “Or possibly take on a new trade, or training, or education.”

Which can apply to a two or four-year college and even vocational training.

Ragley said the most important part, is to offer support.

“Because children and youth that age out of foster care or have foster care experience, we want to make sure that they are able to transition to adulthood,” said Ragley.

If you believe you qualify for aid or to learn more about the program, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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